This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more here. By interacting with this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Show Me More

Protein in cottage cheese

31st July 19 - 8 minute read

Headshot of James Hudson

Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport

Our expert:

James Hudson, Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport. James played Premiership Rugby for Gloucester, as well as lining up for London Irish, Newcastle Falcons and England Saxons. He has a degree and masters in biochemistry from the University of Bath and has completed the International Olympic Committee’s Diploma in Sports Nutrition. He is currently working towards a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University. 

What’s in this article:

  • Is cottage cheese healthy?
  • How much protein is in cottage cheese?
  • How to use cottage cheese
  • Other health benefits of cottage cheese

For those looking for a healthier alternative to soft cheeses or even high fat yogurts, cottage cheese has become a firm favourite. Protein-rich, low-fat and low in calories, it’s a healthy choice for those hitting the gym or just wanting to reduce their calorie intake.

Made from two main ingredients – milk and an acidic substance (such as lemon, lime juice or vinegar)¹ - it’s considered to be a fresh cheese, as it’s not aged or ripened. But how much protein does it pack, and how can you get more of it into your daily diet. Our expert nutritionist James Hudson helps us find out.

At a glance:

  • Cottage cheese is high in protein, low in fat and low in calories
  • Classed as a fresh cheese, it’s made from curds
  • Additional health benefits include being high in B vitamins
     

What is cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese where milk is warmed up before being mixed with an acidic substance. This helps separate it into the curds and whey - which are then sieved to create the cottage cheese.

“It’s an excellent source of protein,” says James Hudson, Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport.

“It’s made from cheese curd, so it has a nice fresh flavour with a creamy texture. It’s also low in fat and carbs so is a good choice if you need to up your protein intake without increasing fat levels.”

Being versatile means you can use it in a range of dishes. Plus, there are other benefits to cottage cheese, whether introducing it to your diet or switching it in for another dairy product. 

Is cottage cheese healthy?

Generally, cottage cheese is viewed as a healthy dairy product due to its low calorie count and low fat content, when compared to many other cheeses. But like most foods, it’s all about taking things in moderation and knowing exactly what you’re eating.

For example, cottage cheese can be made with different types of milk – from skimmed to full fat - which can impact exactly how much fat it has in it.

“Go for ones made from skimmed milk instead of whole milk for the lower fat versions,” advises James.

With a 100g portion of regular cottage cheese, expect around 98 calories² and 4.3g of fat, classing it as having medium fat content – though not far off being low fat³

However, there are now a few different types of cottage cheese available in most supermarkets, each of which contains different nutritional values. The main three types of cottage cheese are:

  • Regular – 103 calories, 6g fat
  • Low fat – 68 calories, 1.5g fat
  • Non-fat/dry curd – 80 calories, 0g fat

Aside from the low fat and low calories in cottage cheese, other benefits also include being a good source of vitamins B2, B12 and B5. While it’s a good source of calcium (around 127mg per 100g), it’s relatively low when compared to hard cheeses and has similar levels as yogurt.

For those with a lactose intolerance, cottage cheese is best avoided though.

Need to know: Low in calories and fat makes cottage cheese one of the healthier dairy products.

 

How much protein is in cottage cheese?

Regular cottage cheese can contain between 9.4g and 12.6g¹⁰ of protein per 100g serving.

The recommended portion size for dairy products is three 30g servings a day¹¹ from different sources. This means there should be around 4-5g of protein per standard 30g serving of cottage cheese.

The exact amount can change between different brands and whether you opt for a standard, low or non-fat tub.

It’s recommended men consume 55.5g of protein a day and women 45g¹², so a portion of cottage cheese can help towards this goal. You can also mix it into other dishes to further boost your protein intake.

Compared to other dairy products, the amount of protein in cottage cheese tends to be higher – making it a good alternative if you want to change up the usual dairy foods you eat.

 

Dairy product

Max protein per 100g¹³ ¹⁴

Cottage cheese

12.6

Yogurt (low-fat, plain)

4.8

Greek yogurt

5.7

Milk

3.5

Quark

14.6

 

It’s not just the amount of protein that differs. The likes of Greek yogurt have a higher fat content as well - often around 10.2g per 100g¹⁵ - which is considerably more than in cottage cheese - which has 6g per 100g¹⁶.

Hard and soft cheeses offer further alternatives, but the majority of these have a slightly lower amount of protein and much higher fat content. Due to the consistencies of some (such as camembert), they are also less flexible and harder to include in as many different recipes.  

Cheese

Max protein per 100g¹⁷,¹⁸

Fat per 100g¹⁹

Cottage cheese

12.6

6

Cheddar

25.4

34.9

Brie

20.3

29.1

Camembert

21.5

22.7

Feta

15.6

20.2

 

Need to know: Cottage cheese is high in protein but low in fat compared to many other dairy products and a great way to increase your protein intake.

 

How to use cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a surprisingly versatile ingredient – working just as well in savoury as sweet dishes.

“Cottage cheese can be used in savoury dishes, but also works well in some sweet dishes like pancakes and waffles,” says James.

“Try it in lasagne, layering it in between the pasta and meat. This gives the lasagne a creamy texture while having less fat than ricotta or mozzarella.”

There are all sorts of fantastic cottage cheese recipes you can use to get the high-protein, low-fat dairy product into your diet easily throughout the day.

Breakfast

For a twist on traditional French toast, eggy bread with cottage cheese and raspberries provides a tasty, high-protein start to the day. Once the egg covered bread is fried, add a dollop of cottage cheese, raspberries and honey on top.

Lunch

A simple lunch you can make at home and take to work is a vegetarian wrap. Season some cottage cheese before heating it up with onion and garlic. Spread this in the wrap before adding lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumber with a drizzle of tzatziki on top.

Dinner

Take inspiration from Scandinavia with an evening meal that’s quick to prepare. Cook a salmon fillet and break into large flakes. Mix cottage cheese with dill, spring onions and seasoning. Spread over some tasty toasted rye bread with a side of pickled beetroot, cucumber or any other vegetables you desire.

Need to know: Cottage cheese combines well with fish and eggs for healthy, high-protein meals throughout the day.

 

Other health benefits of cottage cheese

Cottage cheese benefits those looking to lose weight not just because it’s a low-calorie, low-fat choice, but the high protein in cottage cheese can lead to increased feelings of fullness²⁰. This can help reduce overeating, snacking and other habits that result in weight gain.

Being relatively low in fat (including saturated fat) also helps work towards weight loss when switched in for higher fat dairy products. With different options made with whole, semi-skimmed and non-fat milk, you can find cottage cheeses that avoid excessive fat and cholesterol intake.

Per portion of cottage cheese, you also get more than 10% of your recommended daily allowance of many B vitamins, selenium and phosphorus²¹.

Need to know: Low in fat and calories makes cottage cheese great for weight loss.

In summary

As an alternative to full fat yogurts or soft cheeses, cottage cheese is a high-protein, low-fat alternative that’s surprisingly versatile. Try it in both sweet and savoury dishes or as the base for a healthy breakfast.

 

[1] https://www.allotment-garden.org/recipe/home-dairy/cheese-making/make-curd-cheese-home/

[2] https://www.nutritionadvance.com/cottage-cheese-nutrition/

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/milk-and-dairy-nutrition/

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[6] https://www.verywellfit.com/cottage-cheese-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4109409

[7] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[8] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/874/Calcium%20counts_final_20.08.18.pdf

[9] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[10] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?start=4

[11] https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/cheese

[12] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/618167/government_dietary_recommendations.pdf

[13] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[14] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?start=4

[15] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[16] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[17] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?start=4

[18] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[19] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid

[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943

[21] https://www.nutritionadvance.com/cottage-cheese-nutrition/

Headshot of James Hudson

Performance Nutritionist at Nutrition in Sport

More from our experts